Tag Archives: nationalism

Denial

Anyone who has seriously tried to study the real (i.e. international consensus) history of Stepan Bandera and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists knows the kind of reaction one gets from Bandera fans when you question their hero. First you’ll be accused of being a member of the vast Russian conspiracy that spans decades and stretched its tentacles into the most unlikely organizations (such as the Cold War-era CIA). If not that, you’ll be accused of working for the other evil empire seeking to keep Ukraine down- Poland. Yes, Poland, whose Second Republic obviously joined in the Soviet’s anti-OUN propaganda campaign even though both nations appeared to be bitter enemies. Poland, whose post-1989 state also apparently insists on fabricating a defamatory narrative of the heroic Bandera and the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army). Occasionally, less PR-savvy OUN fanboys will accuse you of being one of those other “conspirators” who have allegedly long sought to oppress Ukraine and malign their heroes like Bandera and Shukhevych.

As for myself, I tend to get the Polish accusation a lot, and to be fair my “Ukrainian” heritage may just as well be Polish or part Polish given my fuzzy family history on that side. Of course while I condemn the UPA’s deliberate attempted extermination of Polish people in Volyn during the war, this has nothing to do with my heritage. Nor do I approve of Poland’s interwar policies toward Ukrainians as the typical Ukrainian nationalist whataboutist argument goes. Fortunately for them, Poland’s new right-wing government has given us a perfect example of a state trying to rewrite history using the force of law, showing Ukraine exactly what not to do.

The media has been somewhat captivated by the disturbing actions of Poland’s ruling “Law and Justice” party for some time now, but this mess started when a Holocaust expert was threatened with having a state award revoked because his work pointed out the Polish complicity in some anti-Jewish massacres that occurred under Nazi occupation. As such, he’s been accused of violating laws that prohibit “defamation of Poland.” Apparently facts and accountability don’t matter.

If only that were the end of the matter. The new right-wing government is introducing a law that would make it a criminal offense to imply that Poland had anything to do with Nazi crimes, including those committed on its own territory. In this sense the law is very similar to that introduced in Ukraine, which makes it illegal to “defame” fighters for Ukrainian independence. While such a law could theoretically make it illegal to defame leftists like Hrushevsky or even Marxist revolutionaries like Lesya Ukrainka, it’s perfectly obvious that the legislation was designed to defend the OUN and the UPA.

As in the case with the Ukrainian law, passed nearly unanimously by its “pro-European” government, the Polish law seems unconcerned with actual historical facts. I’m terribly sorry, but Poles did sometimes collaborate with Germans in the commission of various crimes, and the Polish government collaborated with Nazi Germany in giving away Czechoslovakia to the latter, eventually taking a piece of the country as a reward. Interestingly enough, though that particular episode occurred  while Poland and Nazi Germany had a non-aggression pact, we do not hear about the two countries being “allies” who carved up Czechoslovakia as we do in the case of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. But I digress.

Unfortunately whether it is Russia, Ukraine, or Poland, we Slavs often have an infantile worldview where we refuse to take responsibility for the actions of our often manufactured “heroes.” Ukraine is probably the strangest case, if only because Bandera and the OUN didn’t really represent Ukraine or Ukrainian people,  regardless of their claims to the contrary. Rarely do these national cheerleaders realize that virtually every country in Europe contributed to the Holocaust and the rise of Nazi Germany in one way or another. America refused entry to thousands of Jewish refugees. American companies conducted lucrative trade with Nazi Germany, some of which helped build the German war machine. Britain and France enabled Germany and Italy to intervene in the Spanish Civil War so as to crush the legally elected Republican government. Later Britain handed Hitler Czechoslovakia on a silver platter and then tried to save face by making a half-hearted guarantee to Poland that they never intended to actually make good on. And of course the Soviet Union traded with Nazi Germany during the days of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, supplying it with grain, oil, and other resources necessary to run its war machine in the early years of the conflict.

If we go deeper than the state level, we see that virtually every European nation had people who collaborated for various reasons. The worst, of course, were ideological collaborators who supported fascist ideals. Others did so out of fear. Acknowledging this doesn’t put the nation in question on par with Nazi Germany.

Poland’s Law and Justice Party is engaging in that Slavic infantilism, whereby “national” values and childish fairy tale narratives of national history replace real policy in times of crisis. It is no different from what we see with “patriotism” in Russia and Ukraine- politicians inventing heroes and a sanitized version of the nation’s history while they rob and run their country into the ground.

So there, “patriots of Ukraine”, you can rest assured that I don’t work for Polish intelligence, which of course is but a branch of the great Russian conspiracy to defame Ukraine’s “heroes.”

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Bandera Buttrage – The Aftermath

Don’t let this post’s title confuse you- I haven’t begun a career in writing slash fiction about Ukrainian nationalist leaders. This is about the reaction to my previous post about the glorification of historical fascist organizations in Ukraine. In general I was pleasantly surprised with the results. The sincere responses were not Kremlin-cheerleaders, rather it seems to me they are fellow Ukraine supporters who are similarly concerned about the country’s ability to forge an identity against Moscow’s latest onslaught. Naturally there were the usual suspects, the perpetual victims who resort to false equivalencies and whataboutery just as deftly as their Putin-apologist opponents, but they were far fewer in number than I would have expected.

Bandera + gay shape-shifting sea slug slash fiction. This is NOT your mother's Ukrainian nationalist erotica! Unless your mother is somehow Oleh Tyahnybok or something, in which case you probably have more pressing issues at the moment.  Available on Amazon for your Kindle for only $2.99! Buy today!

Bandera + gay shape-shifting sea slug slash fiction. This is NOT your mother’s Ukrainian nationalist erotica, unless your mother is somehow Oleh Tyahnybok or something, in which case you probably have more pressing issues at the moment. Available on Amazon for your Kindle for only $2.99! Buy today!

Occasionally some people who aren’t necessarily hostile ask whether it is necessary to discuss Bandera, the OUN, or UPA at all outside of history departments and reenactment groups. One reader said, quite properly in fact, that Bandera was a very marginal figure in Ukrainian history and he and his movement did nothing significantly positive for the people of Ukraine. Indeed. Ukrainian history can’t accurately be taught without mentioning figures and movements like these, but beyond a lesson about how not everyone who claims to be a patriot is morally good and in the interests of rudimentary Holocaust education I don’t really see any reason why Bandera and his movement should have any special place in Ukrainian history at all. His injection into modern, independent Ukraine is largely a feat of the diaspora and not homegrown.

Consider for the moment the Croats. Croatia, much like Ukraine, does not have a long history of independence. Prior to 1991, the last time there was an independent Croatian state was in 1941-45. Hell, it was even called The Independent State of Croatia (Croatian: NDH), just in case you weren’t sure that it was independent, a state, or Croatian (Pssst! It was really an Italo-German puppet state for the most part). That state, of course, was run by the fascist Croatian Revolutionary Movement, better known as the Ustashe, a party which, incidentally, worked closely with the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists in the interwar period.

Things get a little awkward when the last incarnation of your country’s independence was a fascist state. How do you support your nation’s new independence and be patriotic if there is that connotation with the past? Indeed, early on in 90’s Croatia’s history, rehabilitation of the NDH was a common theme and right-wing nationalism was rampant. Ustashe atrocities during the war could be dismissed as Communist fabrications or exaggerations. There was whataboutery too- “What about Bleiburg?”

Eastern Europe, and Croatia is no exception here, is relatively-speaking a hotbed of backward right-wing ideology. But Croatia, like some other countries, has managed to do something that Ukraine apparently cannot, even though it should be harder for Croatia in theory. That is to say Croatia managed to sever its post-Yugoslavia independence from the phony independence it had in 1941-45, and more specifically, in law at least, it rejected the legacy of the Ustashe. Ustashe symbols and slogans are banned. It would be naive to think that one can’t easily find Ustashe sympathizers in modern-day Croatia; I saw plenty of Ustashe graffiti in Zagreb in 2006. But I believe that with subsequent generations the legacy of the Independent State of Croatia and the Ustashe will eventually be seen as a dark chapter in the nation’s history, one which shouldn’t eternally weigh on the modern Croatian nation and the Croatian people anymore than Germany and its people should be reduced to the Holocaust and Second World War.

For Ukraine, this kind of struggle for history shouldn’t exist. There was not, nor has there ever been, a fascist independent Ukrainian state, at least outside of Russian state-TV, of course. The overwhelming majority of Ukrainians not only didn’t support the OUN or the Axis invaders, but they played a crucial role in the victory of the Soviet Union and by extension, the victory of the allies. There is no reason why any Ukrainian should ever feel that a condemnation of those Ukrainian movements is an attack on Ukrainian independence or Ukrainians as a people. In fact one should feel insulted that such a marginal group that committed atrocities in the name of a nation and people they clearly didn’t represent should ever be associated with Ukrainians as a whole. This is would be, in terms of popular support, even more ridiculous that equating all Germans with Nazis or all Italians with the fascists.

And yet. in Ukraine the “patriots” won’t let it go. Red and black OUN flags are sold in souvenir shops; I even saw a small metal bust of Stepan Bandera for sale. And no, it’s not ironic like the souvenir Dmytro Yarosh business cards. It’s nowhere near as widespread as Kremlin propaganda would have you think, but it’s still there, and it’s not hard to find. Then of course there is the new law which enshrines the OUN and UPA as “fighters for independence” and protects them from criticism. So long as this continues and so long as it is mainstream, I’m going to keep talking about it. I’m going to talk about it for the same reason I talk about the problem of Russian nationalism.

TEST YOUR OBSCURE WWII MIGHT: Can you spot the Nazi collaborator in this painting I found in Kyiv's railway station? No, it's not Stepan Bandera, so don't look for him. And no, it's not God. He just sat by and did nothing as the German war machine ravaged Europe and systematically murdered millions of his children for nearly six years.

TEST YOUR OBSCURE WWII MIGHT (Click for full size): Can you spot the Nazi collaborator in this painting I found in Kyiv’s railway station? No, it’s not Stepan Bandera, so don’t look for him. And no, it’s not God. He just sat by and did nothing as the German war machine ravaged Europe and systematically murdered millions of his children for nearly six years.

For you see, when I first saw the far right presence on Maidan, my reaction wasn’t “Hey those bastards are anti-Russian!” No, it was more like, “Oh look, more backward right wing thugs, just like in Russia.” Oh they’ll swear up and down that they’re nothing like the Russians, but in reality we’re talking about Celtic vs. Rangers, Yankees vs. Red Sox, Dallas Cowboys vs. America. They support different teams but they’re all just die-hard fans at the end of the day.

So for all you Ukrainians or Ukraine supporters out there who wonder why I’m still talking about the OUN, Bandera, etc. let me say this- I don’t like doing this. I don’t like having to recount basic historical facts again and again while being accused of being “brainwashed by Russian propaganda” and hearing whataboutery and red herrings about the Soviet Union. I especially don’t like doing this when Ukrainian citizens are dying, in large part thanks to lies involving these marginal figures in Ukrainian history. I realize that Russian propaganda doesn’t need much to go on to slander other countries, but imagine just for a second that Maidan had gone a little differently, without the Bandera memorial march, the OUN flags, and all that. Can you honestly say Russia wouldn’t have had to work a little harder to paint the whole movement as fascist and far-right? Can you honestly say they wouldn’t have looked ten times more ridiculous and turned themselves into laughing stock from the very start?

No, fellow Ukraine supporters and Ukrainian brothers and sisters, I don’t want to write about this at all. I shouldn’t have to. But it’s there, occupying a place it doesn’t deserve in Ukrainian society and Ukrainian history. And there’s always some jackass basically screaming: No! We must associate our entire nation with this small, otherwise obscure movement that never garnered the support of anything but a small fraction of our population in a small geographical area!” Please, listen to the super catchy Disney song and just let it go.

Bet you didn’t see that coming, did you?

Vishivatnik case study

So yesterday I posted on the difference between Russian vatniks and possible analogs in other countries. One of those analogs is the so-called vishivatnik, a Ukrainian breed of vatnik.  Obviously the vishivatnik is not as popular as the vatnik, who dates back to 2011-2012, so some people quite understandably want more info. Then as luck would have it, I checked my Twitter feed this morning and a perfect case study was practically staring me in the face. Coincidence? Yes I think so.

The case study in question is pseudo-scholar Volodymyr Viatrovych, a major supporter of Ukraine’s new laws banning Communist and Nazi(but not collaborator, of course!) symbols and criminalizing criticism of the OUN(Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) and UPA(Ukrainian Insurgent Army). Viatrovych, quite predictably, wrote a response to David Marples’ open letter to Ukrainian president Poroshenko asking him to veto the laws. The letter, incidentally, was signed by 70 scholars specializing in Ukrainian and Eastern European fields from North America, Western Europe, and Ukraine itself. Marples responded to Viatrovych, quite diplomatically in my view since he at no time points out Viatrovych’s use of fake sources and his denial of well-established atrocities committed by the OUN and UPA, but it was quite apt. I hadn’t read Viatrovych’s response myself, but in Marples’ response to his accusations, Viatrovych’s vishivatnost becomes apparent. Let me share a few excerpts.

Viatrovych asserts that “similar laws were adopted by other Eastern European countries,” a non sequitur as an explanation of the motives for adopting them in Ukraine. First of all, we were not discussing the laws in other countries.

Does that sound familiar, dear reader? Of course- it’s whataboutery. For one thing, this doesn’t address the question of whether those laws are good. They certainly haven’t done anything to improve the situation with corruption, unemployment, or demographic issues, or example. Second, there’s often a very curious phenomenon in countries which equate Nazism and Communism. They usually tend to have a rather active right wing, and since they tend to use other symbols as opposed to German ones(just like most collaborationist organizations did anyway), they get to slip through the massive crack in the law. To the credit of such European nations, at least they do not criminalize the public criticism of nationalist and collaborationist movements or organizations. Viatrovych is far closer to Moscow than he thinks.

Viatrovych dismisses the non-voting MPs on April 9 as pro-Russians who do not have at heart the interests of Ukraine. But are they not elected officials representing their own specific communities? Opinion polls circulating in early 2014 suggest that fear of Euromaidan was as prevalent in Ukraine as support for the protestors. But for Viatrovych all opposition to the laws is either pro-Moscow or of benefit to Moscow and thus should be dismissed and disparaged.

Sound familiar? Ilya Ponomarev is a traitor! An agent of the State Department! What’s that? The ruble is tanking? The Russian Central Bank is controlled by the USA! Nakatem bleyat’!!!

It is still unclear what happens to those who fall on the wrong side of these laws. Viatrovych suggests that no scholars will be punished for what they write. But one of the Ukrainian signatories to our letter to Poroshenko and Hroisman has already been harassed and threatened by his superiors, suggesting that opposition to the new laws will not be tolerated.

Insisting that society is free while people’s careers and sometimes freedom is threatened because they dissent from the state’s line. Sound familiar?  I suspect Viatrovych secretly has a dozen ushanka hats in his closet. He also probably eats food covered in dill.

On UPA he seems to have a blind spot. He suggests inter alia that our comments on ethnic cleansing in Volhynia represent simply one point of view, hinting that perhaps this event never took place or that it has been misconstrued. “It is only one of the opinions that has the right to exist.” It is not an opinion, however, but a fact and one that has been carefully documented by a number of scholars, including Timothy Snyder in his Past and Present article of May 2003. I cite this article in particular because Snyder can hardly be accused of being anti-Ukrainian and has been among the most supportive scholars of Ukraine throughout the current crisis.

Post-modernism where everything is a matter of opinion and all narratives are valid (but some can be enforced by the state)? That sounds really familiar. Kind of reminds me of a certain TV network with a green and black logo.

Also Marples correctly invokes Timothy Snyder, but of course we all know that Snyder is a paid Kremlin whore who secretly supports Vladimir Putin…By writing scathing criticisms of his regime and its actions.

Lastly, Viatrovych objects to certain signatories on our list whose articles on “primordial Ukrainian collaborationism” are “actively used by Russian propaganda.” Unfortunately, propaganda organs, Russian or otherwise, regularly exploit and distort scholarly work in this way. But Viatrovych is suggesting also that our naive trust of a group that wishes to malign Ukraine “was a reason for the appearance of this appeal,” which “has already become an instrument in this war.”

Here Viatrovych reveals the vishivatniy trope of Russia as the puppetmaster pulling all the strings. For the Russian vatnik, it’s America. Any criticism of Russia’s government, foreign policy, or even endemic social problems( some of which predate Putin’s rise to power) is viciously attacked as either pro-Western propaganda, or material which can be used by Western propagandists.

Oddly enough, in both cases the nefarious propagandists usually don’t use the material in question. For example, most Russian propaganda tries to portray Ukrainian nationalists as Hitler-loving neo-Nazi racists. The reality is far different. The nationalist narrative, thanks to falsifiers like Viatrovych, tells them that the OUN/UPA fought against Hitler as much as Stalin. Pseudo-scholars like Viatrovych have even insisted that those who joined the Ukrainian 14th Waffen SS division “Galicia” shouldn’t be seen as collaborators. Some may have even bought into the lie that the OUN was a democratic, liberal, tolerant organization, something totally unheard of at that time and place in history. Now obviously if you believe that these collaborators were inclusive liberal democrats, you’d be wrong and you need to pull your head out of your ass. But that is a lot different from someone who knows the reality of the OUN and joins because they support that ideology and its goals. It is even further from someone who glorifies Hitler. Of course none of that stops Russian propagandists from photoshopping portraits of Hitler into photos of Ukrainians or claiming that Hitler will appear on the new Ukrainian banknotes.

So in case you weren’t keeping score, we have:

-Whataboutery and red herrings (Russian equivalent: What about Uganda? What about Iraq and Libya? What if those girls tried to dance in a mosque in Saudi Arabia?)

-Use of the traitor label (Russian equivalent: 5th column! 6th column! 38th column! Our constitution was written by the USA!)

-Acting like all points of view are equally valid (Russian equivalent: Okay so that’s what your fancy investigation of MH17 and all its evidence has to say, but I have eight, no wait, nine alternative theories about that!)

-Warnings that criticism could be used by others as propaganda (Russian equivalent: We can’t let the Americans hear us complaining about our country!)

-Overwhelming desire to use state force to impose beliefs and narratives on people (Russian equivalent: Too many examples to count)

There you have the ultimate irony and tragedy of the vishivatnik. He wants recognition of being the polar opposite of the Russian, yet when you scratch beneath the surface you see that he embodies all of Russia’s worst qualities. This is why Ukraine cannot possibly hope to escape Russia’s domination with such people in charge. Putin’s Russia will always be able to beat them at this game, and their antics divide Ukraine rather than unite it.

Highlights(of idiocy)

You just can’t make this shit up, people. Today Irina Yarovaya, Duma deputy and head of the state anti-corruption committee, claimed that the fight against corruption could be a threat to state sovereignty. Below is my translation of her statement from the article I read.

“We are very concerned about what is happening in Ukraine, where under the guise of fighting corruption the entire system of state power was smashed,” the deputy said.

Got that? Corruption wasn’t the problem. The problem was that people got angry and used that as an excuse to effect radical change. One would think that Russian leaders, always so terribly concerned about the endless threats to their sovereignty in spite of over 15 years of rule by a supposedly brilliant leader for which there is no replacement, would want to do everything within their power to fight corruption. That is the rot which creates unrest among the populace and opens up all kinds of avenues for those sneaky NGOs who pay people a few hundred rubles to face police batons and tear gas and try to overthrow their own government, right?

You’d think that, but alas, you are wrong. No the real threat is people complaining about corruption and wanting the government, and perhaps specifically the government’s anti-corruption committee, to do something about it. Sovereignty to the Russian government means letting their semi-feudal elite siphon Russia’s natural wealth into their pockets with impunity, and any attempt to make them stop is an anathema to them.

Oh hey, on an entirely unrelated note, did you know that Yarovaya’s daughter is quite the successful businesswoman? How successful, you ask? Well as it turns out, she managed to purchase a flat in the center of Moscow for nearly $3 million dollars at the age of 17! Turns out her mother forgot to declare that according to Russian law, a pretty run-of-the-mill thing for Russian politicians and officials. But don’t you dare violate Russia’s precious sovereignty by pointing that out!

Next up is a story about some Russian nationalist figures who have long been associated with the fascist “Russian March” traditionally held on 4 November. I’m only bringing it up because these dipshits are being investigated for extremism because they allegedly made public statements insulting Islam and Caucasian people. First of all, my reaction is: No shit they’re guilty. Problem is there’s no way the government couldn’t have known about this for years. In fact the Russian March has long been tolerated and supported by the government or people close to the government. Many of the march’s participants cross the government’s line at times, but this is a state which has long seen the value in angry young men with a propensity toward violence, not to mention hatred and xenophobia.

The only reason I’m bringing this up now is because it serves as a good example of what I wrote about in my recent piece regarding the recent international fascist conference in St. Petersburg. Here Russia is inviting dozens of right-wing European Islamophobes to its second city and telling them that it is the salvation of European civilization. Meanwhile these same European fascists who scream about political correctness dominating their own countries generally have far more freedom to express their racist and xenophobic screeds against Islam than they would in Russia. Lucky for the Kremlin, most of these European dipshits don’t speak Russian, so it’s unlikely that they’ll find stories like that one.

That’s pretty important considering the only reason why the Russian government has become so protective of Islam as of late has nothing to do with trying to promote tolerance or harmony between peoples, two concepts which are diametrically opposed to the power structure’s cynical ideologues. Instead it has everything to do with Putin’s paralyzing fear of offending head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who considers himself quite the pious Muslim and defender of the prophet. Kind of ruins that image of the tough, bare-chested “manly man” those conference goers gushed over, doesn’t it?

Entitlement: Why I hate Bandera supporters

I’ve often said that Moscow’s propaganda feeds off of deficiencies in the Western media. Were it not for a small kernel of truth, Russia’s foreign language propaganda would appear as ridiculous as its domestic incarnation, and thus it would be utterly worthless.  And what do you know, turns out I happened across a great example of just such a deficiency.

AFP was reporting on a recent parade in Ukraine in honor of nationalist leader Stepan Bandera. Yes, that actually happens. No photoshop. Before taking a look at some of the highlights, I do want to say that I was happy to learn that Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko did not endorse or attend this event. That said, let’s get on with it.

Thousands of Ukrainian nationalists held a torchlight procession across Kiev on Thursday in honour of a 1940s anti-Soviet insurgent branded by Moscow as a Nazi collaborator whom Europe must reject.

Actually Bandera is branded by the historical record as a Nazi collaborator, not just by Moscow. Bandera apologists, which occasionally include non-nationalists, often like to point out his temporary incarceration by the Germans in response to the declaration of an independent Ukrainian state. All this means, however, is that he was stupid and trusting.

Some wore World War II-era army uniforms while others draped themselves in the red and black nationalist flags and chanted “Ukraine belongs to Ukrainians” and “Bandera will return and restore order”.

Hmmm…I wonder which World War II-era uniforms they were wearing. I’m guessing something of a grey-green hue.

“The Kremlin is afraid of Bandera because he symbolises the very idea of a completely independent Ukraine,” Lidia Ushiy said while holding up a portrait of the far-right icon at the head of the march.

Nonsense. The Kremlin cultivates and propagates reactionary ideas which are more or less identical to those of Bandera and modern Ukrainian nationalists. Plus it loves Bandera and the Ukrainian nationalists because by alienating certain segments of Ukraine’s population, it makes them into willing collaborators for Moscow.  What would Russia have been able to do in the Crimea or Donbass had the nationalist aspect of Maidan been rejected in favor of a multiethnic, multilingual, but ultimately united and independent Ukraine? Insisting on uniformity excludes people and weakens a country.

Bandera is a mythical but immensely divisive figure in Ukraine whom some compare to Cuba’s Che Guevara.

I suppose you could compare him to Che Guevara, you know, if you’re stupid.

Bandera was the ideological patron of resistance fighters who fought alongside invading German forces during World War II.

Right here the author admits that these fighters collaborated with the Germans, but earlier they made it seem like this is just Moscow’s idea.

The Ukrainian famine of the 1930s that was created by Soviet collective farming had turned many against Moscow and in favour of any foreign presence that could help fend off Kremlin rule.

Sorry but this just isn’t true, and even some of the Ukrainian nationalists of that era admitted this. For one thing, the area in which Bandera’s movement was most popular was not part of Ukraine when that famine occurred.  The vast majority of Ukrainians supported the Soviet government, a fact born out just by comparing numbers of collaborators with numbers of Ukrainians in the Red Army,  pro-Soviet partisans, people killed by the UPA or Axis forces, etc.  Everybody tends to remember the famine, and specifically that famine, while totally forgetting that the Soviet government brought a lot of other things like universal healthcare, literacy, industrialization, etc.  Does my pointing that out shock or horrify you? Well I hope you’re not American or British in that case.

The reason why I cannot stand Bandera apologia is that its proponents present this man as a hero when he was in reality nothing but a shitbag who brought nothing positive to Ukraine. There are some people who want to impose an ideological orthodoxy on all Ukrainians and people of Ukrainian descent. Just as American conservatives insist that you must buy into their delusional version of events so as to be considered a “real American,” a “real Ukrainian” must adhere to one narrow version of history where the USSR was an “illegal occupation” and Bandera was a hero. You can choose any political values you like, so long as they are right of center to extreme right. There’s this sense of entitlement where these people, once a tiny minority, appropriate the right to define what Ukrainian means and what politics the country should have. I also get pissed when I see that the same kind of nationalist rhetoric and rehabilitation of reactionary figures is generally condemned when it happens in Russia, but it’s tolerated or whitewashed when it happens in Ukraine or some Baltic country.

Ukraine’s independence doesn’t rest on Stepan Bandera.  Bandera was nothing more than one of two bald guys who have tormented Ukraine, the other being Vladimir Putin, of course.  If Russia wishes to remain in a past that never actually existed, they will suffer the consequences of this. In fact in many ways they already are. If Ukraine doesn’t want to share this fate, Bandera should be chucked in the dustbin of history. His ideas and movement were put to the test, and the majority of Ukrainians rejected him. When the USSR had so severely degenerated ideologically, socially, and economically to a point where it no longer held any more benefit for Ukrainians, they rejected that. There’s only one faction besides the Ukrainian nationalists who wish to make Ukrainian synonymous with Bandera supporter, and that is the Kremlin.

"Real Ukrainians love Bandera!"

“Real Ukrainians love Bandera!”

"Real Ukrainians love Bandera!"

“Real Ukrainians love Bandera!”

Drinking game

Here’s a fun drinking game. Read this article about the parliamentary elections in Ukraine and take a drink every time you see the word “Europe” or “European.”  Depending on what you’re drinking, you may end the article with a decent buzz.

Some other highlights include one person repeating the claim that Ukraine has broken with her Soviet past, a favorite meme of Maidan supporters and their well-wishers. Of course they haven’t broken with backward, early 20th century nationalism which is far more regressive than the USSR’s ideology, but that’s okay because the most important thing in this crisis-ridden economy is blaming other people for your problems and staying as far away from socialism as you can. Hence the rise of right-wing politics all over Europe and Russia.  Every time nationalists have had any significant influence on Ukraine, the results have been awful. The last time costs Ukraine valuable territory, but some people simply do not learn.

If this sounds like I’m putting all the blame on Ukraine, ask yourself as to why right-wing nationalism is tolerated in Ukraine, while the media condemns it in Russia. After all, Russians also seem to be breaking with their socialist past and embracing a neo-imperialist ideology.  Had Maidan not tolerated right-wing nationalists and instead aimed to unite all people of the country, Russia wouldn’t have found a willing fifth column to support its irredentist schemes. Now Ukraine is likely to be a more or less divided country for generations to come. The idea that a European Union association agreement will do anything to reverse that process at this point is simply laughable.

Ignore that!

Remember the wisdom of Eastern Europe guru Tim Snyder, nationalism apologist extraordinaire- If you criticize or point out the nationalist involvement with Maidan, it means you’re a Putin supporter. So as you browse these photos of a recent pro-Ukraine rally in New fucking York, just ignore the Praviy Sektor flags and slogans. Ignore the fact that we basically have the equivalent of the KKK organizing in full view on American streets and yet thanks to ignorance and stupid American notions such as slavishly and uncritically supporting anyone perceived to be an underdog, they can stand on a street corner with their fascist flags without any fear whatsoever.  Just as with the original Maidan, ignore the flags, ignore the symbols, and ignore the slogans, lest Dr. Snyder come and label you a supporter of Putin and his lapdog, Alexander Dugin.  Oh by the way, did you know that Maidan is an Arabic word?!

Before any dipshit comes along and says, “But those people are a minority,” let me preempt that idiotic excuse by asking you if you’d be prepared to accept people openly marching with Confederate or Nazi flags at your next political rally. I’ve grown sick of watching idiot Western liberals decide that only they and they alone get the privilege of organizing for their own interests, separately from those whose ideology they abhor. It’s a well-known fact that American libertarians and Ron Paul fanatics are outspoken critics of things such as foreign military interventions and the war on drugs. Yet privileged little American liberal doesn’t think he needs to embrace those groups just because they happen to share a similar position on a couple issues.  But if you’re Ukrainian or Syrian, well then your movement must be a big tent that includes everybody, even if that means violent fascist thugs or Islamic fundamentalist groups.  The important thing is that we have another “democratic revolution,” all made possible by Google and Twitter, of course, and that Western liberals can comfortably express their “solidarity” by changing profile pics, sharing hashtags, and passing viral videos around.  Having a distinct ideology and adhering to it is a luxury afforded only to Westerners.

So, Peter Protester and Sally Solidarity, unless you’re willing to march shoulder to shoulder with, for example, uniform-wearing, flag-bearing members of the National Socialist Movement, I suggest you shut the fuck up when principled people such as myself call out the far-right wing forces associated with Maidan and the current Ukrainian government. Rest assured that no matter how much I believe that the Crimea should be part of Ukraine, no matter how much I loathe the colonial theft that is “Novorossiya,” I will never lend my support to a regime in Kyiv which covers for, coddles, arms, and even glorifies right-wing fascist thugs, however small their actual numbers may be. They said they would make Ukraine “European,” and yet all this movement has done is set Ukraine on the path to becoming a smaller version of Putin’s Russia.

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